In recent years, it has been involved in lawsuits against other businesses who appeared to have used Streetdirectory.com's maps without permission. Ironically, it lost a suit initiated by Singapore Land Authority for copyright infringement in early-2008 resulting in its maps taken offline for months. The website has since been taken over officially by JobsDB in August 2008, it was mentioned that JobsDB had negotiated its purchase since 2007.
The website underwent a severe downtime of 03 months (April 2008 - August 2008) citing re-development of its maps from scratch. It came back online after announcing JobsDB's purchase. The speedy recovery of its status is now under the radar of Singapore Land Authority for yet another copyright infringement suit.
Its owner is known to have hired an IT firm to conduct investigations aggressively against the unlicensed use of their maps on other websites, and most of the defendants contacted by Virtual Map's legal team claim that they were not aware that doing so constitutes a copyright infringement. Nevertheless, they were liable for damages and lawyers subsequently warned of this fact in the local media.
The justification given by Virtual Map was that enough skill and effort was made in using SLA data to create maps that the company can claim its own independent copyright to, and suffered from a loss of potential profit when businesses reproduced their maps online without paying any licensing fees. Such use constituted, as Virtual Map claims, infringement of the Copyright Law and has angered existing clients who have legally paid to license their maps. This position was endorsed by the High Court of Singapore, which gave Virtual Map the green light to send cease and desist letters to hundreds of companies and organisations who have used the maps on their websites in a similar manner, demanding that they either pay up to $10,000 or more, or to face legal action. In most cases matters were settled out of court.
The statutory board is currently seeking damages, an injunction to prevent further use of the data by Virtual Map, an order to disclose its client's list and addresses, and to destroy all copies of the infringing material. In its defence, Virtual Map has reiterated that its works have been sufficiently original, an argument which held in Suncool's unsuccessful appeal against the company. The defendant has also claimed that SLA has obtained information from other agencies that it did not own. On the second day of the trial, three SLA employees took the stand to testify that Virtual Map has copied "SLA's skeleton", which has been the "hard work, skill, labour and money invested by the government", and pointed out several irregularities in Virtual Map's work.
The trial began on 8 January 2007. SLA has since set up an alternative website that allows non-commercial users to download its maps for free. Eight months later on 7 August 2007, a district court ruled that Virtual Map's online maps on streetdirectory.com had breached SLA's copyright. District Judge Thian Yee Sze also held that Virtual Map should stop "dealing in maps which are reproductions of SLA's street directory vector data and address point vector data", and further ordered an inquiry into the damages due to SLA. Lawyers from Drew & Napier represented SLA, while Virtual Map was defended by counsel from Rodyk & Davidson.
Streetdirectory.com lost its subsequent appeal on the decision, but it did not affect the earlier legal settlements against hundreds of businesses and organisations. However, it had to shut down its map service pending replacment of its map data.
Streetdirectory.com Re-launches as a Map Based Directory for Businesses, Restaurants, Properties and Jobs.(Directory)
Jun 16, 2009; Streetdirectory.com, Singapore's top travel and mapping portal as ranked by Hitwise, has unveiled an innovative approach...